Intel's Smart Glasses – Vaunt
The ability to have important accessible information at hand can make the difference in making a sound (at the moment) decision based on an educated guess. This is usually achieved by displaying necessary and pertinent information via the various computing and communication devices, mostly of the handheld variety we have today. But what if you could see it in front of you on some form of a heads-up display without making it obvious that you are consulting some form of a database right then and there.
One of the earliest well-known instance of viewing information this way was Alex Murphy. However, the computer that fed him the information was already built into him, but the concept of usage and it's practical applications was well foreseen. Of course, RoboCop was fictional in the 1980s and one does not have to be a trans-human peacekeeper to make use of the technology. Today, the fiction is finally within grabbing distance. No, not the cyborg but the HUD, the Heads Up Display.
Intel recently released its prototype foray into the realm of man-machine interface and an unobtrusive one at that, a pair of AR glasses. Again, it would be improbable to suspect that a pair of ordinary horn-rimmed Revenge of The Nerds glasses would be a HUD. It is the most humanly natural form of information display as people would perceive the wearer to be a geek and natural walking encyclopedia.
This discreet form of HUD technology is known as the Intel-Vaunt. A wonderful advancement in micro-miniaturization so to speak. The processor and projection display electronics are built into the plastic frame of the glasses. This causes it to weigh around 50 grams, a little bit more than a regular pair but minimal enough to be really noticed. The Vaunt doesn't use any LCDs. cameras, speakers or a microphone as of now to avoid any unnecessary discomfort and to keep the device as discreet as possible.
The glasses though uses an Ultra-Low Powered laser that is beamed or bounced into your eyeballs and reflects at the back of your retina. The holographic image that is produced is called a retinal projection and appears clear and natural to your point-of-view even if you have problems with your vision. It's like having all those text and info displayed in RoboCop's field-of-view, awesome!
Intel however designed the HUD to appear 15° below your line-of-sight so as not to blatantly shove the data in your face and impair your vision in the process. All you have to do is to look down to activate the HUD as the Vaunt's electronics can track your eye movements and respond to them. The image, however, is limited to a red monochromatic 400x150 pixel display and, hopefully, multiple color selection would be made available soon.
The Vaunt comes with a Bluetooth interface for your mobile devices which you have to sync it with. It has its own processor for handling apps as well as a compass and accelerometer to determine which way you're looking and where your current location is. Intel will be adding a microphone in coming versions to enable voice commands and communication for incoming apps that will be developed. However, Intel plans to make the command interface to be discreet in such a way as not to interfere with personal face to face communication. A UI that would use head nods or other subtle forms of gestures would likely be employed.
Intel plans to rely on third-party OEMs for the Vaunt’s mass production. The glasses, after all, is still a prototype and very much under development. The company also announced that the Vaunt will be an open platform system and will be launching an early access program and SDK for third-party developers to develop mobile apps for it. Apps will mostly run on the linked mobile devices but some specialized ones can run on the glasses themselves.
As to what future the Intel Vaunt will bring is something we will have to wait and see. But judging by the speedy developments in technology, we may not have to wait for long. Law enforcement is just one application aside from the many scientific, commercial and practical uses these glasses can be put to work with. Knowing the difference between a threat and an innocent can mean so much in a life-saving event. Once the threat pops up on your Vaunt’s HUD, you can then safely exclaim... Your move Creep!
*RoboCop theme playing in the background... *